Waterfront lunch at Mr Hobson, Port Melbourne
On a typical spring Sunday in Melbourne, the sun alternated with threatening rain clouds as we headed down to the bayside suburb of Port Melbourne for a leisurely waterfront lunch at Mr Hobson.
The restaurant is literally on Melbourne’s Station Pier – a shrimp’s toss from the wharf where the Spirit of Tasmania ferry spends most of the day, waiting for its early evening sailing. While diners don’t get a view of the big ship, it’s a pleasant enough aspect looking west along the beach and the apartment towers lining the road.
Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband were with dear friends The Artist and Easily Pleased for a coupon offer. For A$198 we were entitled to a four-course meal and two bottles of wine – not a bad haul at less than $50 a head.
The only wine on offer for that deal was a sauvignon blanc and a shiraz, both by McPherson Family Vineyards, from central Victoria. They were exceptionally drinkable – even the sauvignon blanc, which Greedy Girl rarely enjoys.
There were aspects of the deal that offered no flexibility. Our first course was a pumpkin soup, while the dessert was a choice of either a strawberry or coconut pannacotta. While some dishes such as a ‘seafood tower’ and the oysters weren’t included in the offer, everything else was – and there were plenty of options for the remaining two courses of our meal. We were very happy to settle in and the menu read well.
The dining room, as you’d expect being over the water, is fairly light and bright. Being a Sunday lunch, there were more than a few large tables but the noise level never got overpowering.
First up was the pumpkin soup, served with a large piece of grilled sourdough. It was perfectly pleasant, if not a rave.
We then moved to our choice of starters. The Artist took a salmon fish cake, served with baby radish, rocket, beanshoot salad, corn and roasted capsicum salsa and a sweet and sour dressing.
She commented it was a nice plate of food, although the salmon didn’t really shine. The crunch from the salad gave a nice texture, as did the chunky salsa.
Greedy Girl and Easily Pleased took pan-fried scallops with a cauliflower puree, crispy prosciutto and truffle oil. The scallops were utterly delicious and cooked perfectly, with a lovely seared crust. The other elements were OK, although there was no appreciable truffle flavour.
Gluttonous husband chose beef carpaccio. This was pepper-crusted rare beef with a horseradish aioli, beetroot puree, truffle oil, baby radish and a mixed herb salad. The beef was tender and enjoyable and the hit from the horseradish a very nice combination. Unlike the other starters, the profusion of greens was a little scant but a good dish nonetheless.
And so to mains. Easily Pleased had the dish featured at the top of this post, a fillet of crispy-skin barramundi with polenta chips, roasted cherry tomatoes, grilled vegetables, confit mushroom and a salsa verde. Not being a fan of tomatoes, he distributed those among the other plates but pronounced the fish moist, flaky and delicious.
The Artist backed up with salmon, taking a salmon fillet with potato croquette, braised leek, asparagus and cauliflower puree. Again, the quality of fish and its preparation was excellent.
Gluttonous husband also backed up, following his carpaccio with an eye fillet steak. Cooked blue (still mooing), this 250 gram steak was superb quality, topped with a garlic and herb butter. It was served with Dutch carrots, roasted cherry tomatoes, mushroom compote, a celeriac puree and thyme jus. A dish like this would easily cost $50 on its own in most Melbourne restaurants.
Greedy Girl spied one of her favourites – nasi goreng. This was done with seafood (mainly prawns, calamari and scallops) and a quite sticky and sweet sauce, topped by a fried egg. It was an enormous serving and Greedy Girl wanly pushed half the plate away in defeat.
The desserts came up after a decent break. Both types of pannacotta were satisfyingly wobbly and were served with ice cream, coulis, small meringues and slices of macerated strawberries.
And we were done. We filed out into the slightly weak spring sunshine and headed for home. As a coupon deal, this was a bargain. It was an excellent experience with good wines – an addition to Melbourne’s waterfront lunch scene.
9 Waterfront Place, Port Melbourne (next to Station Pier)